Attachment Theory In Psychology College Assignment

1655 words - 7 pages

1. The propensity to make strong emotional bonds to particular individuals is a basic component of human nature" (Bowlby, 1988). To what extent is it possible to explain attachment in terms of nature rather than nurture?
John Bowlby’s theory of attachment (1969) suggests that we are prewired to do certain things, and attachment is a reciprocal bond to an individual. For Bowlby human nature consists of traits and behaviours that he believes are prewired to ensure we receive the caregiving attention from another person who can look after us and ensure our survival.
Bowlby’s evolutionary perspective on attachment is influenced by ethologist Konrad Lorenz (1935) and his study on imprinting in geese. Lorenz discovered that when the attachment is created the geese will follow their “mother” wherever they go, not wanting to leave the mother’s side, therefore an attachment is formed. Correspondingly, Bowlby suggests that imprinting is a similar process that occurs in human infants, there is some evidence to support this theory such as Bushnell’s (1989) study which suggests even new born infants can recognise their mother’s face. However, behaviourists such as Dollard and Miller (1950) argue that attachment is not innate, but purely the product of either Classical conditioning or Operant conditioning which would predict that children would become attached to whoever feeds them. Food is the primary driver of attachment in both models of conditioning, either through association or reinforcement. If an infant is not fed they will feel distressed, but by feeding the infant they feel content again resulting in a reduction in their drive state. For Dollard and Miller, food is the main reason why children become attached, they associate food with pleasure and therefore the person who provides them with food is associated with pleasure as well. (is there a different way to word this?)
A study undertaken by Harlow and Harlow (1959) wanted to test this prediction proposed in Dollard and Miller’s study on rhesus monkeys using two surrogate ´mothers´, one made of wire with food and the other without, but wrapped in a cloth. Instead of the monkey spending time with the wire mother with food, which Dollard and Miller would predict, the monkey would seek comfort from the cloth mother as this provided them with a secure base reinsurance. This could suggest that security and sensitivity is more important than food when a bond is being developed. Therefore, this suggests that Bowlby’s theory of attachment is correct and that an attachment is crucial for healthy, emotionally development and survival.
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2. With reference to the studies and research findings of Shaffer and Emerson and Mary Ainsworth evaluate the evidence and theories that account for the different types of attachments found in infants.
Schaffer and Emerson’s (1964) study of 60 Glaswegian infants and the measure of two behaviours, separation anxiety and stranger distress, showed that attachment...

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